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The Southern Star

Pelasgia-Memphis

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Fort Antipas, Antipeia Colony, Pelasgian Southern Himyar

Alexios Protopsaltes was a tall, well-built man from a town near the slopes of the Cyclopean Mountains, near the city of Hagios Demetrios in Old Pelasgia. With blueish green eyes and light brown to dark blonde hair, he could have passed for a Natalian colonist rather than a Pelasgian one, a joke his fellow Pelasgians played on him a tad too often. Family legend went that his family were descended from Germanic crusaders who had stayed behind in Pelasgia and converted. Nobody really knew whether that was actually the case, though Alexios certainly had the skiing skills of an Eiffellandian. In any case, Alexios was for the most part indistinguishable from thousands of others in the olive-green uniform of the Imperial Far Southern Constabulary (VPAN), Pelasgia's paramilitary gendarmerie and security force in the Far South. Bearing the insignia of the colonel, he fixed his tie knot one last time, before hearing his name being called. Resolutely, he walked into the room before him: a large conference room, built in the neoclassical style, with light blue walls and white plaster all over. Around a large white and gold table sat half a dozen of the most powerful men of the Pelasgian colonial regime in the southern tip of Himyar: the High Commissioner, Avgoustinos Solomos, along with the regional COO of the Pelasgian Southern Himyari Compani (PSHC), Georgios Makrinos, General Theodosios Lykourgos of VPAN, the Commander-in-Chief of the Pelasgian military forces in the region, Brigadier Tiverios Rangaves, Archbishop Dionysios of Fort Antipas, and Iakovos Theodorides, the High Commissioner's Minister for Native Relations. Alexios stood in attention and reported, awaiting to be questioned.

"Colonel Protopsaltes," General Lykourgos explained, "has come here to report on the recent events and current state of the Kingdoms."

"Well then," said the High Commissioner, "tell us what you have seen, Colonel."

"The situation in the Kingdoms is dire, Your Excellency," Alexios started; "The Kintu were already determined to exterminate the Kéké long before we came here. And they had nearly accomplished it driving them off the current Far Southern Territories, save for southern Antipeia. As you well know, this is why the Kéké were so eager to work with us when we first landed here. Though the Kintu Kings were persuaded, by the force of our superior arms, to make peace with the Kéké, this has not gone down well with much of their populace, who hoped to take their lands for themselves."

"This we already knew, as does anybody who has paid attention to the events of the Far South," Minister Theodorides explained; "What has happened since the HPU's so-called 'declaration of war'?"

"Minister, the Kintu were already fighting against the Kéké under the banner of the NRA even before the HPU. They had charged their own Kings and the whole Kéké race with treason and selling the Far South to His Imperial Majesty and to our colonists, and were determined to wipe them out or assimilate them into a new nation. VPAN's intervention along with the PSHC's unofficial help certainly checked the bloodshed, as did the intervention by the Kintu Kings, who still carry considerable prestige among the older generations. But we could only contain the inevitable for so long; the HPU has done away with the NRA's pretenses and is openly nationalistic. Thus, they have called for open treason against the Kintu Kings, and the many younger Kintu, eager to seize Kéké land, have heeded this call. I fear that unless the Pelasgian military intervenes, the Kings themselves might be deposed, and we might lose complete control of the Kintu Protectorates. VPAN can only do so much; we're a gendarmerie, not an army. We let His Imperial Majesty's native units do most of the fighting."

The Minister queried anew: "We have all read your report on the Ubaji River Massacre. You say that these militants are popular among the Kintu?"

Alexios was taken aback. "With respect, sir," he said, "I do not believe you understood the meaning of my report. The militants are not popular with the Kintu. They are the Kintu. The vast majority of the young warriors and many of the peasants too are with them. The Kings and their supporters are a minority now. If we do not intervene the Kéké are doomed. We must not wait until they reach the Colonies to deploy the army."

"Thank you for your testimony Colonel," the High Commissioner said; "It is much appreciated. We will discuss matters of strategy amongst ourselves. You must return to your charge at once, given the gravity of the situation. We have your report, and we will contact you if need be."

Once Alexios exited the room, the six men convened for their own short meeting.

"The young man is right," the VPAN General said, "we cannot hold the entire Kintu with just VPAN. The PSHC paramilitaries are helpful, but the most they can do is terrorize the Kintu with reprisals, not actually crush them. And certainly not defend the Kings or the Kéké."

"And why is that a problem for us?" asked the High Commissioner; "We control all press coverage of the Kingdoms anyway. If they take out their own Kings, so much the better for us. We can annex the Kingdoms as Territories. I say let them fight it out, and once they have worn each other out, then we intervene and subdue the Kingdoms. We will mostly use the Emperor's Nethian Rifles and PSHC mercenary units, of course, to avoid the optics of Pelasgian soldiers subduing Nethians. If we handle this crisis well, the natives will serve us their own lands on a silver platter, and take away their own sovereignty."

"And what if the HPU reaches the colonies?" asked the Minister.

"They can't do that without getting through the Kéké lands, and our border garrisons. We both know they won't stand a chance against Pelasgian regulars," the Brigadier responded. "His Excellency is right. We will reinforce our positions near the Kéké border, but hold back for now. Once the Kintu and the Kéké have sufficiently weakened themselves, then we will intervene to pacify the region."

"The Company has forces in the region, Pelasgian, foreign and native," Makrinos noted. "We can use them to wreck havoc behind the Kintu's lines in the meantime. And we can make sure the Kings go, if the Nethians don't do it for us. With plausible deniability, of course."

"Let's hope we don't have to go there," the High Commissioner said; "It's better for everyone if the Kintu do most of the killing. They can't blame us for killing the Kings if the Nethians did it themselves. And terrorist Nethians at that; none of those bleeding hearts abroad like violent revolutionaries, that much is certain."
 
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Pelasgia-Memphis

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Mubanto, Southern Kintu Kingdom, Pelasgian Southern Himyar

The temperature climbed above twenty degrees in what was theoretically a cooler part of the year in the southern tip of Himyar; Goulielmos Frabronas was forced to constantly wipe the sweat off his forehead, as he marched through the arid expanse of the southern Antipeia island, dressed in combat fatigues and carrying heavy equipment. "Everything alright?" he heard his comrade, Bonifatios Fournaris, say. Bonifatios and Goulielmos both had rather atypical Pelasgian names, probably because they were not ethnic Pelasgians. In reality, one was Guillaume Fabron and the other Boniface Fournier. They belonged to the Phrangopouloi (the "Sons of the Franks"), Gallian crusaders who had remained in Pelasgia after the Propontine Empire retook its territory from the Catholics centuries ago, and had chosen to pledge their allegiance to the new regime. These men were commonly employed as mercenaries or professional troops by the Pelasgian Crown, being told apart by their symbol: a black banner with a single golden lily. Their lack of ethnic affinity with the Empire's native population, coupled with their natural affinity for war (as descendants of crusaders) made them perfect mercenaries for the Pelasgian Throne. They often served in the Imperial Guard, including the Emperor's personal Bodyguard.

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The Banner of the Phrangopouloi

"Yeah," Guillaume replied; "How far off are we? The jammer on my back is killing me." Putain de pays, putain de chaleur, he thought. "Not that far off," replied Boniface; "Two clicks." The company continued its approach through the arid land, passing through the fields of Mubanto Region, one the outskirts of the Southern Kintu capital. Throughout their trek devastation met them at every turn; every time Guillaume's eyes gaze shot up, the black smoke of burning towns and hamlets carved through the pleasant azure of the sky. He kept track of one of the thickest sources of smoke, which aligned well with Mubanto town itself. As the company finally reached the periphery of Mubanto, the carnage of the HPU Insurrection became apparent: bodies lay scattered about, subjected to all sorts of senseless cruelty before their death, dependent on age and sex. Those young enough to be enslaved had been carried off; those not... he had seen many things in his years fighting the Melingian and EKKP guerillas, but nothing quite like this. This hearkened back to Krypteia black-ops in Eastern Himyar.

Mubanto was a known loyalist town to the Southern Kintu Kings, and the rebels had made sure to send a message that cooperation with the old regime would not be tolerated. Of course, the PSHC mercenaries were not in Mubanto to mourn the loss of the local loyalists; the Company cared very little for what the natives did to one another. Their annihilation only made its domination and exploitation of the Far South easier. One does not hire Phrangopouloi veterans of the Imperial Guard for policing operations. No, the PSHC forces were in Mubanto to deal with those that the HPU had not slain or carried away. Those who had aligned with the new regime the HPU sought to establish in the Far South. They were fewer than their now dead (or worse) compatriots, but they were still numerous enough to cause problems if left behind. Formally, the strategy was meant as a reprisal; but, truth be told, the PSHC had been wishing for a chance like this all along. Far away from the prying eyes of outisde observers, far away from the prying eyes of the Pelasgian Government, the PSHC could eliminate a few thousand fighting-age Kintu who were determined to be a thorn in its side in years to come. Their lands would escheat to the Kintu Kings, and once those Kings were gone, to the Pelasgian Colonial State. And everyone knew to whom the Pelasgian Far Southern Administration granted all land development contracts to; there was but one major corporation in Southern Himyar: the PSHC. The PSHC was a state within a state, and it intended to become even stronger.

Guillaume, Boniface and the rest of their platoon split off from the company, which broke up into smaller platoons. Two other companies, which had surrounded the town from all sides, did the same. Guillaume, like many others in the company, had been carrying a jammer; he deployed it. Having taken every protection to make sure that the town was isolated, and having completely surrounded it, the PSHC troops begun advancing, going home to home. The more elite mercenaries, like the Phrangopouloi, took care of the armed rebels still in the town; the rest, including native troops from the Kéké Kingdoms with a profound hatred of the Kintu, took care of the noncombatant population. By the end of the day, what had been left of Mubanto after the rebel attack was reduced to corpses and ashes. The PSHC's methods were quicker and less savage than those of the rebels, though the objective and outcome were equally inhumane.

Their objective accomplished, the PSHC troops retreated, leaving no specific trace of the origins of the second attack; they wanted no incriminating proof left, and the rebels would know who to blame anyway. The PSHC shareholders back in Propontis would thank the mercenaries for this atrocity one day, though they would most likely never even know it took place. Nor would any "civilised" Pelasgian or European. As would all those who would one day settle the Far South, confident that the blood-drenched lands under their feet were lawfully acquired. South Himyar, like any nation, would be birthed by blood, as this scene would repeat itself thousandfold across the Protectorates: the rebels would take a town and lay waste toin it, and the Kéké or the PSHC would swoop in and destroy the remnants as a reprisal, all the while the Kintu Kingdoms crumbled. Soon, the Kéké Kingdoms would follow, leaving the PSHC as the only real owner of the natives' former land, and allowing the Imperial Army to come in, welcomed as the restorer of peace in the desert that its inaction would make. Ironically, the HPU Insurrection, or the "Far Southern Emergency" as the Pelasgians euphemistically called it to downplay its importance, had allowed the PSHC to enact the exact tactics that the NRA had been accusing it of before the Insurrection. Only this time, there would be no witnesses left to write long, tear-jerking editorials in the Nethian Nationalist press.
 

Pelasgia-Memphis

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From: General Staff of the Armed Forces, Propontis, Northern Military District
To: Third Fleet Command, Iole Naval Base, Evosmos, Western Military District
Classification: Top Secret / Urgent / Most Rapid
Subject: Orders for Deployment

***START OF MESSAGE***

The following units are called to order:
-VP Theodore I Laskaris [CV-12] ( )
-VP Homerios [C-31], VP Nikephoros [C-29] ( )
-VP Nea Makri [FF-11], VP Pharos [FF-29], VP Ioli [FF-17] ( )
-VS Stachtodelphin [SSN-9], VS Rinodelphin [SSN-13] ( )
-VS Bathyteuthis [SSGN-2] ( )
-III Marine Division of the Imperial Pelasgian Marine Corps

The units in question are hereby designated as Battle Group I/3rd Fleet (I/3S), under the command of the fleet carrier VP Theodore I Laskaris. I/3S is hereby ordered to deploy to the Cantignian Sea-Perle Sea region south of the Pelasgian Far Southern Territories. Transit is to be made via the Thaumatic Ocean and then the Perle Sea, at the highest possible speed and secrecy. At all times, I/3S is to exercise maximal caution and restraint, and to stay well clear of local naval units or shipping. Readiness for any potential attacks by unrelated hostile forces while en route must also be exercised, given the tense climate surrounding the Long Sea. The safety of the fleet is I/3S's foremost priority.

Upon arrival at the Pelasgian Far Southern Territories, the fleet is to:
(i) disembark the III Marine Division; and then
(ii) initiate bombing operations against insurgent targets in the region, until their full pacification, using aerial, missile and any other necessary means.

Upon completion of its mission, I/3S is to remain in the region until further notice. I/3S is to cooperate with any Pelasgian Southern Himyari Company (PSHC) forces in the area, but must remain clearly distinct from the operations and command structure of the PSHC. Likewise, I/3S is to report directly to the General Staff, independent of the command jurisdiction of the local Pelasgian garrison commander and the colonial administration at Fort Antipas.

***END OF MESSAGE***
 

Pelasgia-Memphis

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Northern Kintu Kingdom- Border, Pelasgian Southern Himyar

Tutu wiped the sweat off his forehead and adjusted the raised sleeve on his camouflage fatigues, which bore the insignia of the Emperor's Own Nethian Rifles. He aimed his rifle ahead of him, in the direction of a large amount of dark smoke which emerged from Mfalme, the capital of the Southern Kintu Kingdom. The once mighty city of the Southern Kintu found itself torched by the advancing HPU rebels, the royal family slaughtered in their own palace like animals by the radicals. The Northern Kintu Kings had been slain in a terrorist attack earlier in June, leading the Pelasgian Southern Himyari Company to directly assume control of the Northern Kintu Kingdom. Further to the south, the Kéké Kings saw their lands raided constantly, with brutal massacres being committed by the HPU forces, who mixed ancient ethnic hatred with modern ideological contempt for a people they saw as having "collaborators" of the Pelasgians. Tutu and the 5,500 men of the Emperor's Own Nethian Rifles were the only thing that stood between the ruins of Mfalme and the Northern Kintu border town of Ngabo. The Northern Kintu army had effectively dissolved, its remnants being either integrated into the PSHC troops or outright disbanded out of fear of disloyalty. Those units were further north, suppressing HPU insurgents within the Kingdom's borders. Around 5,000 men of the PSHC army were en route to reinforce the Empire's indigenous units; the Imperial Army's regulars had been sent northwards, towards the frontier with Nzadiland.

"Artillery inbound, brace for impact!" shouted Tutu's sergeant, as the Rifles' fire support began its attack against the advancing HPU irregulars, who totaled nearly forty thousand on foot and riding technicals. Mortars begun striking into the massive advancing force, but scarcely seemed to do much, given the sheer number of the enemy. As the attackers came into visible range across the largely flat border terrain, marked by a small stream, Tutu and his comrades readied their weapons. Before the riflemen started firing, a machine gun opened up into the attacking force scattering fire and death. This scene repeated itself across the defenders' line, as the MGs of each company did their best to suppress the attackers. And yet, the endless line continued to approach. As the attackers begun reaching 800 meters, the maximum effective range of the brand new Type 36 rifles the Pelasgians had given the Rifles, Tutu and his comrades saw that it was their turn to fire. Tutu placed a tall, skinny man brandishing some kind of Kadikistani rifle into his sights. Without a moment's hesitation, he held his breath and pulled the trigger, striking and killing the man. He acquired and new target a fired again, continuing until his magazine ran out of ammunition. Still, the massive crowd of invaders kept on coming. "Fix bayonets!" he heard his sergeant cry, as the attackers neared the stream. He complied.

Just as Tutu finished mounting his bayonet, he heard a loud sound coming from afar. A sharp object passed over the desert terrain, followed by the loudest roar Tutu had ever heard: a fighter jet. An explosion ripped into the attackers' lines. Soon after, more such flyovers and explosions followed, as the Fleet Air Arm of the Pelasgian Third Fleet began bombing the border battleground. The HPU, lacking any anti-air weaponry that could counter the modern jets, began to flee. With renewed resolve, Tutu reloaded his rifle and took aim, unleashing a hail of lead into the retreating HPU rebels. His comrades did the same. Within a few hours, the HPU rebels had been driven back completely, suffering thousands of casualties. Many deserted that day, horrified at the prospect of fighting against aerial forces without any means of defence. The Rifles, for their part, wasted no second. Reinforced by the PSHC troops later that day, they started advancing into the Southern Kintu Kingdom, to restore the Emperor's law. Further to the north, the Third Fleet had landed the III Imperial Marine Division, relieving the local regulars who were free to move into the Kingdoms to support the PSHC and the Emperor's Own Nethian Rifles in pacifying the revolt. Within a day, the Rifles and the PSHC mercenaries would be in Mfalme, where the latter would exact a painful vengeance on the leaders of the new would be regime.
 
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